One more song before you blow out the candle
The conclusion of this piece is that appreciation of classical music is "the ability -- and patience -- to listen to something long. I wonder, in regards to contemporary poetry, if this contributes or not to the decline of poetry read in Americans -- i.e. lack of concentration to read "longer total-concept" poetry books.
One reason "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" stunned my generation... was that this Beatles album was not just a collection of songs but a whole composition.... That was a new experience in rock. "Sgt. Pepper" pointed the way to longer total-concept albums like Radiohead's "In Rainbows," the big news in pop music today. Link.
The poetry books I've read recently seem to be collections of poems in the same manner that contemporary music album is a collection of songs. Of course, there are albums other than classical music that require you to listen to it from beginning to end. For example -- a seasonal example -- the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" holds together as a complete work. At least, that is how I listen to the album. Progressive rock is known for "concept albums" as in Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" or Dream Theater's "Images and Words."
But are there poetry books that hold together the way "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" does? A few poetry books I have read from cover to cover include Lavonne J. Adams's In the Shadow of the Mountain or Mark Strand's Dark Harbor: A Poem or Ted Koosher's The Blizzard Voices. Jorie Graham's collections do not work like a "longer total-concept" book. At least, not in my edumicated opinion. I tend to read her books like one works a car stereo radio dial in a strange city. I'll scan through a few poems and land on something that reads well and then scan forward a few more pages. Maybe a Graham collection would work best as a 5-song EP.
Given the propensity for Americans to latch onto iPod singles rather than a full-length project like Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle-Earth, would a better way of introducing American readers to poetry be in the form of EP-sized chapbooks? Jessica Smith offers such a format with her bird-book. Or maybe it is better to introduce readers to Les Murray's Fredy Neptune : A Novel in Verse.
Of course, my credentials as a poetry critic just went down the toilet as I used progressive rock and metal as a way to explain why Amoricans don't read lit.